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Richmond law firm's lone female Black attorney made it her mission to change that dynamic

Posted at 10:36 AM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 11:34:30-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- When Jacquelyn Stone joined the law firm of McGuireWoods LLP as an associate in 1985, she was the only Black female attorney working there. She then made it her mission to change that dynamic.

“When I started at the firm in the early 1980s, diversity wasn’t anything you really talked about,” Stone said. “I pretty quickly got involved in recruiting, and mentoring, and really helping the pipeline of attorneys of color and women coming into the legal profession."

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Stone served as more than a recruiter.

Her area of expertise is government relations, regulatory matters, and business immigration law.

In 1994, Stone was elected partner at McGuireWoods, becoming the first Black woman partner in a major law in the entire state of Virginia.

“I was quite surprised and very honored and pleased because I felt as though my input was valued," she said. "My role here had a meaning."

Stone went on to become the first Black person to serve on McGuireWoods’ Board of Partners, the firm's governing body.

Stone also won numerous awards. One McGuireWoods award for diversity and inclusion was named in her honor.

Last month, Stone won the best mentor in the country by the American Lawyer magazine industry awards.

“I was absolutely shocked! I really, really did not expect that. But again, feel very, very proud,” she said.

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Stone credited her love of the law and opening doors for others to her father, William T. Stone.

He was a Williamsburg lawyer who opened the city’s first integrated law office in 1964.

In 1968, he became the first Black judge in the Williamsburg area.

“He was very committed to his career and to helping people, serving others, serving the community. My mother and father both have been tremendous role models,” she said.

Jackie Stone said by following in her family's footsteps, she has helped hundreds of people go on to become lawyers, judges, even law school deans.

“I think as early as we can really get young people thinking about what they can accomplish then you’ve given them so much more opportunity to actually succeed in that regard,” she said.

Stone also has a college prep and workforce development program called partnership for the future which provides education and training for local high school students.

Watch Rob Desir's "Our RVA" reports Wednesdays on CBS 6 News at 4 and 5:30 p.m. If you know someone Rob should feature, email him at Rob.Desir@wtvr.com

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